Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion!
See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.
Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day,
and they shall be his people,
and he will dwell among you,
and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.
The devout reader of the Prophet Zechariah would suppose rightly that "The Lord" is the "I" who speaks to daughter Zion (Jerusalem), assuring her that "I am coming to dwell among you."
This dwelling of God with his people has been a constant theme for many centuries before Zechariah, who wrote in the sixth century before Christ. The Books of Exodus and Deuteronomy record that divine assurance: the Lord will remain with his people. God was with them in the desert for forty years, in the tabernacle tent at the shrine in Shechem, and in the temple of Jerusalem.
Catholics recognize that Abiding and Real Presence of God in the church and tabernacle to this day. We have only to find the burning vigil light in the sanctuary to be assured of His Presence.
I am intrigued by the last clause in the 17h verse of Zechariah 2, "and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you." Who is the "me" who has been sent?
Catholics and Christians will readily agree this is a prophetic word about Jesus. Although the Messiah was not born of Mary for more than five hundred years after the Prophet Zechariah, we understand that these words constitute the promise. Jesus knew from the outset, and most certainly from the day of his baptism, that he was sent by God.
But in the context of today's Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we know that the Lord God has also sent her to North America. We hear her voice in that ancient prophecy, "...you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you."
In fact she was recognized and welcomed immediately by the Native Americans, in 1531, less than 40 years after their initial Encounter with the West. Suddenly relieved of the savage Aztec empire by equally ruthless Spanish conquistadores, the blighted poor found solace in the presence of this Mother of the Savior. If they could not relate to a Crowned Christ, they could recognize a pregnant, dark-skinned woman. Her infant will be neither native nor foreign but mestizo, a despised half-breed, a displaced refugee born in an unforgiving, hostile land.
During the past year North Americans have been caught up in a furious debate about our history. How do we tell the truth of our past with its slaves and slaveholders, its cowards and heroes? Whom should we admire and emulate from the past. Which heroic ancestors will go with us into the future?
Should we admire the conquistadores who brought the Gospel with them as they ravaged the land in their quest for gold? Or should we admire the poor who, despite their suffering, welcomed the story of a crucified savior and his impoverished mother?
Should we admire the generals who led armies into a civil war or the slaves who created an Africa-inspired tradition of Gospel music? If there is only one God for slaves and slaveholders what kind of worship does He desire, that of conquerors or the conquered? We must choose carefully; it does make a difference.
Our Lady of Guadalupe assures us she is with us in this strange, new and hostile world. She is still bearing the child in her arms that we might bow down and worship the one who conquered death by dying.